The aim of this blogpost is to encourage and help those of you who are willing to host a JS CodeRetreat in your city. I’m pretty sure that lots of people thought “nice idea! I’d like to take part to it…but where to start?”. It’s simple. Requires some energy and effort to organise it but, believe me, it’s totally worth it. And you will be rewarded with a great feeling of satisfaction! (and we’ll help you too, that’s for sure!)
- Why is it important?
- Where to start
- How to pay for it?
- How to promote it? Sponsoring
- What will I need?
- What’s a retrospective?
- What Uxebu provides?
- Can I host a JS CodeRetreat in my city, but not during the global date?
- Company CodeRetreat?
Why is it important?
But why is it important to host this event in your city too?
There are so many reasons that it’s really quite difficult to create a list. First of all, this isn’t a conference, it’s a CodeRetreat! Rules are totally different, attendees take actively part in the coding experience: act a lot, listen very little. In a conference you are mostly sitting and listening to talks. Besides the chatting in the breaks the activity is up to the speaker. In a CodeRetreat you hack and you actively share what you have learned after every session (of 45min) and the facilitator actually speaks very little compared to all the attendees.
Secondly, although the purpose of this event is NOT AT ALL advertising your company, you’ll still have a lot of visibility, and people will get to know your company as “THE company hosting the JS CodeRetreat”. Believe me, for us this has been a great jump forward in spreading what we do daily. Testing and TDD are not yet widespread practices, but they should be, and with this event you’ll have the chance to communicate it!
Where to start?
First step is to add your city to the official JS CodeRetreat website.
After that, where exactly are you going to host your event? This is a crucial point: you need a hall big enough to contain all the people you expect, tables, chairs, etc., and there should still be a free space where to eat and hold all your “retrospectives” (I’ll explain you what’s this about in a sec). The hall should have enough plug-ins (though you can still buy spare ones), and it has to provide a good wifi connection, adequate for fullfilling the wifi needs of all your attendees.
You’ll need projectors (min. 1, but if we planned a “Randori” in the timetable, you’ll need one every 10/13 expected people) and microphones (better if wifi), both usually available in many halls. If not, keep in mind that projectors and microphones are crucial, therefore you should start looking for them asap :).
How to pay for it? Sponsoring.
Look for sponsors. This is the best way, and you’ll both take advantage from your JS CodeRetreat event (your names will be everywhere!). You’ll need sponsors at least for the hall/location, the food and the drinks. In my opinion, the best way to find sponsors is simply going to other events that you might be interested in (MeetUp.com is full of stuff), and talk to people during breaks or spare time. Really, believe me, there are lots of people looking for events to sponsor, sometime the most simple thing to do is the one that would never come into your mind! Attending events organized by other companies could be a great opportunity to find new sponsor. (And to increase your personal culture. There are so many awesome and interesting events around you, maybe you don’t even know!).
How to promote it?
Remember: this is not advertisment! Your name will be everywhere, that’s for sure, but you still don’t have to advertise your company, but the event! It’s quite different…. There is a code of conduct that has to be respected.
Create your event on meetup.com, lanyrd.com, Facebook, sponsor it with your twitter page, post it and share it with all the JS groups and people you think could be interested. We can help you by advertising it on the official JS CodeRetreat twitter page, on the main website, etc.
What will I need?
Besides what I’ve already mentioned (projectors, microphone, extension chords, etc.) you’ll need some extra stuff to make sure your event will be designed in detail and, therefore, awesome.
First of all, you’ll need food.Sponsors are paying for that, but you still have to buy it, and therefore you should think in advance of what to buy and how much to buy. You need to provide breakfast, lunch, snacks, coffee, milk and drinks. As an example, for our JS CodeRetreat that took place on the 8th of February, we bought: coffee (we had the machine), milk and sugar, lots of different types of biscuits, yogurt, butter bretzel, chips, haribo, beers, coke, juice and other soft drinks, and pizza for lunch. You’ll obviously need cups, glasses, plates and cutlery too! Don’t forget to think of the obvious stuff :).
You’ll then need some stationery items: coloured markers, adhesive labels to use as name tags, lots of coloured post-its (you’ll need them for the retrospective moment), note pads and pens. My suggestion, after having seen how useful pens and blocks were in our previous event, is to make some gadgets to give away after the event. Best idea is to create note pads and pens/pencils, but also cups could be a great idea! Those are the most comon gadgets but, I have to say, the most useful too! Everyone can use them during the event, and then bring everything back home or in their offices We also created energy drinks with our logo, stickers and an awesome poster regarding TDD: all objects that the attendees seemed to like quite a lot, therefore I suggest you to do the same!
We’ll provide you the slides, that will work as a guideline for your event speakers, so you don’t have to think to much of what to talk about… you won’t be talking that much though, the goal is to make your partecipants learn something modern, useful and new… they’ll act the most of the time, not listen :).
Another suggestion is to provide some international keyboards: we didn’t think of it, but we saw that many people wasted time just setting international keyboards on their laptops, therefore providing them would give an extra edge to your event.
Until the next event we will have tddbin.com ready to be used in pairs, so you can just use your laptop and the environment you are used to.
What’s this “retrospective”?
This is the most awesome part of the event. After each session, you will all meet together in another side of the hall, and your speakers will ask some more deep questions about the just ended session. You can’t believe how much you’ll come to learn by doing this! You should also find a system to summarize all the informations, suggestions and opinions: we thought of hanging sheets with the sessions on the wall, and everyone just attached their opinion under them on a post it. Considering that this is the core moment of all the event, and that we learned a lot just listening to the attendees speaking, for the next time we decided to make some videos of the retrospective, and I suggest you to do the same. It’s really a formative moment for everyone, don’t miss the opportunity to remember it in the best possible way! Videos, records, post-its, pics… do as much as possible so as not to miss anything. The retrospectives will give you lots of satisfaction, I swear.
Btw, pics and videos are important during the whole event (a good smartphone could be enough). These will be useful not only to remember this great experience in details, but also for your social media contents, for promoting it the next time, and for your sponsors too: they’ll probably ask for proof that their logo was present during the event, remember this!
What uxebu provides?
We help you with the sponsoring and promoting stuff, we provide you the slides for the event (a big help for your speakers!), we’ll give you the timetable, with the chosen kata and a detailed description of what will happen during every session and during the whole day. If you still feel not prepared enough on the topic, we can send you some links to videos, blog articles and other stuff regarding the carrying out of the CodeRetreats. Obviously, if you need more informations, we’re here to help you, therefore just get in touch with one of us!
What if I want to host a JS CodeRetreat in my city, but not during the global date?
You can certainly do that! It’s a community event, you can host one whenever you prefer (though hosting it during the global date gives to the event another feeling). We can help you too, just get in contact with us and let’s see what we could do together!
A company CodeRetreat?
I hope that this (loooong!!!) blog post will facilitate the hosting of your JS CodeRetreat. For further questions, again, feel super free to ask us!
See you soon!